Thanks giving day

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day History

Though the history of a “thanksgiving day” can be traced back to 1789 when George Washington declared Thursday, November 26th as a day when “we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks . . .” there was no national agreement on a day for the event. Prior to that, from 1777 to 1783, Thanksgiving Day, by Congressional mandate, was celebrated in December.

After a five-year break with no celebration, Washington’s proclamation revived the holiday and moved it to Noovember. Other Presidents declared various days of Thanksgiving and one, James Madison, actually declared two in the year 1815; however, none of these occasions were in the fall of the year.

A Day of National Thanksgiving
The idea of a national day of Thanksgiving did not occur again until 1863. President Lincoln, following decisive wins by the Union armies at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in the summer of that year, issued a declaration making the fourth Thursday in November, a National Day of Thanksgiving. Even att that late date, the holiday was not universally accepted, particularly in the South, where it was viewed as another Yankee event that further eroded their way of life. By the late nineteenth century, however, the New England harvest festival, wh

hich evolved into Thanksgiving Day, was celebrated nationwide.

Pilgrims? What Pilgrims?
As mentioned earlier, one of the greatest myths of Thanksgiving concerns the role of the Pilgrims. The colonists who established the Plymouth Colony did not refer to themselves as Pilgrims. Their self-descriptive title was “Separatists,” denoting their theological break with the Church of England. The actual use of the word “pilgrim” appears to been a use of literary license by latter day historians who felt the need to romanticize the event.

Though commonly viewed as Thanksgiving Day symbols, the association of Pilgrims and Native Americans with the holiday did not occur until the 1800s. As far as can be ascertained, the actual description of the 1621 feast was lost until a group of meemoirs, including a description by Edward Winslow, one of the Plymouth Colony’s leaders, was rediscovered sometime in the 1820s.

Winslow’s description of the celebration, entitled Mourts Relation (1622), gives an idea of what happened at that meal:

“Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest, their greatest King Massasoil, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted . . . ”

It wasn’t until 1841 that writer Alexander Young linked that harvest celebration with the American Thanksgiving.

In the early 1900s, when il

llustrations of those early settlers and their Native American neighbors became commonplace, these images became forever intertwined as icons for Thanksgiving. Even today it is as unthinkable to celebrate Thanksgiving Day without thoughts of Pilgrims as it is to have Thanksgiving Dinner without turkey!

Thanksgiving Day Traditions

In the United States, aside from the Thanksgiving meal, we have come to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with parades, football, and the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Thanksgiving Day Parades, though not specifically documented, probably got their start when President Lincoln proclaimed an official day of Thanksgiving. Given the Union achievements of the summer of 1863, it would have been logical that any official event declared by the President would have been accompanied by a show of military strength and discipline such as a full-dress parade. Elaborate floats, musical shows and entertainment celebrities have replaced the parades of armed and uniformed men marching in cadence or to a military band, but the desired effect, to lift the spirits of the spectators, remains the goal.

Heralding the Christmas Rush
The day after Thanksgiving, often an additional day off has become “Black Friday” the day when the Christmas shopping frenzy first starts. Like football, this has become a cultural symbol of

f the holiday and the season.

The advent of Thanksgiving Day football is purely a twentieth century invention. For years, the principal game was a tradition between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. Yet, as this modern day ritual became more and more popular, more games were added with more teams.

Thanksgiving Fare

Let’s Talk Turkey
Picture the traditional Thanksgiving dinner: a festive table, a loving family, glowing candles and the finest china used only on special occasions. And the centerpiece of the festive meal: the turkey, golden brown, with stuffing and gravy on the side, awaiting the carving knife and whetting the appetites of all those present. This scene, however, is not from history, but it emerges from a desire to remake history into our own vision.

No Thanksgiving Turkey?
Wild turkeys, as they would have been encountered in New England nearly four centuries ago certainly did not resemble the overstuffed fowl, cultivated for our dinner table, that we have come to recognize, even by silhouette. Tough, resourceful, able to fly and hard to catch, turkeys were not the first choice of either Native Americans or early colonial hunters. This creature was so tenacious that none other than Benjamin Franklin suggested it be re

evered as our national symbol. Of course, the Bald Eagle ultimately won the honor by a feather.

So if turkey was not the main course at the first harvest festival, which we have adopted through time, as the model for Thanksgivin

Then What’s for Thanksgiving Dinner?
The answer lies in some of the documents of the time. Edward Winslow’s account details that “they went out and killed five deer” and mentions that “our governor sent four men on fowling” and that “they four, in one day, killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week.” While it is possible that turkeys may have been killed, it is more likely that ducks or geese were the primary targets.

In addition, the crops grown by both settler and Native American would have graced that early thanksgiving dinner. Corn, squash, potatoes, yams, even wheat to make bread were, in all probability, shared and enjoyed. Ironically, however, it is not likely that cranberries were evident. Since they grew in bogs and were often inaccessible, gathering them may have been more effort that it was worth. In an even greater piece of irony, New England has become one of the principal locations for commercial farming of this tart, tough-skinned fruit.

Today there is such a large variety of food to choose from that a Thanksgiving Dinner can feature almost any main course. True, the traditional turkey is still the meat of choice, yet goose, duck, ham, even some of the sea’s harvests can be used. In place of sweet potatoes, peas, rice dishes, greens, and even more exotic vegetables all make their way to this celebration of Thanksgiving and harvest.

The key to a Thanksgiving menu is to choose foods that will represent the idea of giving thanks for a good year, a harvesting of good fortune, and the sharing of the bounty of your efforts with friends and family. In today’s world, the only limit on preparing a Thanksgiving Dinner is an individual’s imagination and creativity.g Dinner, then what was served

A Canadian Thanksgiving

The Canadian Thanksgiving makes an interesting counterpoint to the holiday celebrated by its southern neighbor. As mentioned earlier, the first North American thanksgiving event occurred in Newfoundland in 1578. In the 1600s, Samuel de Champlain and the French Settlers who came with him established an “Order of Good Cheer.“ This group would hold huge celebrations marking the harvests and other events, sharing their food with Native American neighbours.

The First Canadian Thanksgiving
The first Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated on April 15, 1872 in thanks for the recovery of the future King Edward VII from a serious illness. The next Thanksgiving didn’t occur until 1879 when it was celebrated on a Thursday in November.

Setting a Date
Much like the United States, Canada seemed to have a difficult time deciding when a day of Thanksgiving should occur. From 1879 to 1898 it was celebrated on a Thursday in November; from 1899 to 1907 on a Thursday in October (except in 1901 and 1904 when it was celebrated on a Thursday in November); from 1908 to 1921 on a Monday in October; and between 1922 and 1930 the Armistice Day Act declared that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on Armistice Day, the Monday of November 11. In 1931 the Act was amended and the old practice of Parliament declaring a day of Thanksgiving each year was resumed.

On January 31, 1957 Parliament issued a proclamation to fix permanently the second Monday in October as “a day of general Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.“

Much like the United States’ Thanksgiving Day, the Canadian celebration includes parades and festive meals, often including turkey and all the “fixins.“ Yet, again, at the heart of the celebration is the idea of giving thanks for the goodness of the season past.
Thanksgiving poem

To Gramma’s House

To Gramma’s house we go,
Heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho!
We’re on our way with horse and sleigh,
Through fluffy drifts of snow.

Oh, what a trip to take.
She’ll have a chocolate cake.
There’ll be some pies, of monstrous size,
And chestnuts we can bake

To Gramma’s house we go,
Heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho!
What lovely things Thanksgiving brings;
The nicest things we know!
Over the River

Over the river and through the wood
To Grandfather’s house we go.
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood —
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day! Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground
Like a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow —
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood —
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

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